Most Valuable Home Improvements

A group of tradesmen getting ready to help homeowners make the most valuable home improvements.
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

“What are the most valuable home improvements?”

If a homeowner is planning to sell their home in the future, this is a question one may ask.

As a Realtor, I understand making changes to one’s home is oftentimes a very emotional process.

My advice to all homeowners is to disallow ones emotions to make “value-add” decisions.

For example, adding a swimming pool and over-personalizing the home are some of the worst home “improvements” one could make.

Therefore, “added” resale value will remain stagnant.

This is why hiring a professional interior designer is highly recommended.

In fact, Forbes stated hiring an interior designer can help homeowners save money and increase the value of their homes.

Below is a list of the top 10 most valuable home improvements a homeowner can make to increase resale value.

  1. New Floors
  2. Manufactured Stone Veneer
  3. Garage Door Replacement
  4. Kitchen Remodel
  5. New Vinyl Siding
  6. Energy Efficient Windows
  7. Adding a Wooden Deck
  8. Finished Basement
  9. Bathroom Remodel
  10. Roof Replacement

1. New Floors

One of the most valuable home improvements is new floors.
Solid and Engineered Hard Wood, Shaw Floors

HomeLight and the National Association of REALTORS® stated 54% of home buyers were willing to pay more for homes with hardwood floors.

In addition to that statement, Realtors such as myself have estimated a 106% return-on-investment.

Costs to install hardwood floors will vary upon the grade of wood, brand, etc.

Engineered hardwood floors can cost an average of $6.40 per square foot to install.

The installation of high-end hardwood flooring can cost up to $23.00 per square foot to install.

If hardwood flooring isn’t an option, there are three other flooring alternatives to consider.

The three alternatives are vinyl, laminate, and ceramic tile.


Vinyl flooring is best for kitchens, bathrooms, and sunrooms with costs ranging from $1.00-$5.00 per square foot.

This type of flooring material is best for the rooms mentioned since vinyl flooring is water-resistant.

To add more to the good news, handy homeowners can save money during the installation process because it can be a DIY project.

Aesthetically, vinyl flooring can mimic real wood and tiles.

However, they are not very eco-friendly.

Ceramic Tile

One of the pros of this type of flooring is the huge selection of colors and styles available.

With its reputation of durability and resistance to water, no wonder this type of flooring is well sought after.

The only con with ceramic flooring is the constant maintenance required by the grout lines.

Homeowners can expect a price within the range of $1.00-$20.00 per square foot.

Food for Thought

As a homeowner, one may be unsure about which type of flooring will look best.

Try using Lumber Liquidators Floor Visualizer by uploading a picture of a specific room.

Next, one shall be able to select all styles the have available.

This allows homeowners to get somewhat of a realistic idea of what will look best in a particular room.

2. Manufactured Stone Veneer

Manufactured stone veneer is one of the most valuable home improvements to make to the exterior of a home.
Manufactured Stone Done Right, Remodeling Magazine

In this article, three most popular types of stone veneers are mentioned below.

The three most popular types are castle rock stacked stone, Emperador dark split face, and Acadia ledge stacked stone.

For both indoors and outdoors, natural minerals such as granite are becoming quite popular as well.

Homeowners can expect an average return-on-investment of 95%,

As you can see, manufactured stone veneers are amongst one the most valuable home improvements one could make.

Homeowners can expect to pay an average price of $9,357 to get the job done.

3. Garage Door Replacement

A garage door replacement is one of the most value home improvements.
Garage door with white sectionals and decretive hardware, Chapman Garage Door

Remodeling Magazine suggests new garage doors shall be made with high-tensile strength steel.

As far as coatings, two coats of factory-applied paint is recommended.

A minimum of R12 foam insulation is recommended in addition to having thermal seals between pinch-resistant panels.

It is stated that homeowners can reuse their motorized garage door openers.

However, new heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks shall replace the old ones.

  • Just in case you’re wondering what galvanizing is, it is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel to prevent the material from rusting.

The hardware included is galvanized steel hinges and urethane ball bearing rollers.

Out of the 10 most valuable home improvements to make, replacing a garage door is one of the cheapest items to replace.

Expect to pay an average of $3,695 as a homeowner.

The average return on investment is 94.5%.

4. Kitchen Remodel

A kitchen remodel is not only one of the most valuable home improvements, but it is also one of the most popular.
Before and after kitchen remodel, Home Channel TV

One of the most popular home improvements to increase resale value is a kitchen remodel.

A survey of 4,000 homebuyers shows 86% of buyers prefer the kitchen and dining room to be completely open.

If not completely open, at least partially open.

There were 67% of homebuyers who chose stainless-steel appliances as their top finishes.

Granite or other natural stone countertops were preferred by 57% of homebuyers.

Last but not least, 32% of homebuyers desired to have white kitchen cabinets.

Thankfully, sometimes homeowners may not have to do a full kitchen model.

Mid-Range Minor Kitchen Remodel

Sometimes a minor kitchen remodel may be a better choice for homeowners instead of a large remodel.

This may consist of leaving the cabinets in place while replacing the fronts with new shaker style wood panels.

Homeowners can install new drawer fronts with new hardware and replace the cooktop/oven range.

Consider replacing your current refrigerator with a more energy-efficient slide-in refrigerator.

Laminate countertops can be replaced with the addition of installing a mid-priced sink.

Of course a new faucet should be installed along with new resilient flooring.

Lastly, don’t forget to freshen up the kitchen by repainting the walls, trim, and ceiling.

A minor kitchen remodel can cost homeowners an average price of $23,452.

The average rate of return is 77.6%.

Mid-Range Major Kitchen Remodel

A major kitchen remodel for a home may consist of semi-custom wood cabinets with a 3×5 center island.

Just as one would do with a minor kitchen remodel, upgrading the kitchen with laminate countertops is fine.

Instead of a standard sink, a stainless-steel double sink with a single lever faucet would be more applicable.

Choosing to go with an energy-efficient range may be a wise choice due to the increasing desirability to live green.

There are a few other appliances needed for a major kitchen remodel as well.

Those items are a vented hood, built-in microwave, dishwasher, and garbage disposal.

Custom kitchen lighting such as recessed lighting in the ceiling, under-cabinet lighting, and pendant lighting is also another attribute.

Lastly, resilient flooring, the repainting of walls, trim, and ceiling are also needed.

The price tag of a major kitchen remodel is over $40,000 more than a minor kitchen remodel.

Homeowners seeking to have a major kitchen remodel completed can expect to pay an average of $68,490.

Less may be more because the return-on-investment for a major kitchen remodel is considerably less than a minor kitchen remodel.

Homeowners can expect to get an average of 58.6% return-on-investment.

5. New Vinyl Siding

The second most valuable home improvement for a home on the outside is vinyl siding.
4 Reasons to Choose Vinyl Siding from Window, World of Cleveland

Vinyl siding is one of the most popular exterior choices for homes as more than 30% of U.S. homes have this material.

Another fun fact is that vinyl siding can often stand up to 110 mph winds.

However, SF-Gate states homeowners should avoid using a pressure washer on their vinyl siding.

The reason being is because the strong pressure may cause water to accumulate behind siding panels.

Doing so increases the chances of cracking, warping, along with the growth of mold and mildew.

Instead, they advise homeowners to mix vinegar and water in a large buck with a ratio of 30% vinegar and 70% water.

If that isn’t effective, add a mild laundry detergent with the same 30 to 70 ratios.

Before applying this newfound remedy, homeowners must pre-rinse their homes with a regular water hose.

Some of the most popular styles of vinyl siding are Dutch lap, beaded panels, and horizontal panels.

Popular colors are autumn red, desert tan, and coastal blue.

The average cost of a home to be refaced with all new vinyl siding is $10,731.

The average return on investment of 74.7%.

6. Energy Efficient Windows

The sixth most valuable home improvement is energy efficient windows.
How Much Do Energy Efficient Windows Cost? Modernize

Energy-efficient windows are one of the most well sought after and valuable green home improvements.

According to Custom Design and Construction, dual-pane, low emissivity (low-e) windows allow homeowners to reduce outside noise, drafts, and heating and cooling costs.

  • Low Emissivity: Low-E glass has a microscopically thin, transparent coating (which is much thinner than a human hair) that reflects long-wave infrared energy (heat). Some “low-E’s” may also reflect a significant amount of short-wave solar infrared energy. As the interior heat energy tries to escape to the colder outside atmosphere during the window, the low-e glass coating will reflect the heat inside. Therefore, reducing the radiant heat loss through the glass. During the summer months, the reverse happens. Source: Vitro Architectural Glass.

As far as savings are concerned, and the U.S. Department of Energy stated homeowners can save around $126-$465 per year.

In my market of Williamsburg, Virginia, the cost to install energy-efficient windows can range from $385 to $785 per window.

Although, the price will vary by the brand, window type, frame, and energy features.

Homeowners can expect to pay an average of $21,465 for insulated-low emissivity windows with wood trim.

The average rate of return is 68.9%.

However, homeowners can pay $4,000 less for an alternative while achieving a higher rate of return.

Another choice of windows for homeowners is low emissivity windows with vinyl trim.

The full replacement cost of vinyl windows can run an average price of $17,641 with a 72.3% return.

7. Adding a Wooden Deck

A wooden deck addition is the seventh most valuable home improvement.
Popular Wood Deck Options, Stumps Decks & Porches

Adding a wooden deck is not only one of the most valuable home improvements to make.

They are also a great place for family and friends to bond and create memories.

Think about coming home after a long day or work and enjoying the peace and quiet on a back deck.

One may feel as if a deck isn’t something to enjoy year-round due to it being too hot or too cold.

The good news is, homeowners can always add a fireplace or a fire pit to warm up those cool-nippy evenings.

In my area of Williamsburg, Virginia, the summertime sun can be rather brutal.

Thankfully, homeowners can always add a covering over the deck to eliminate the hot southern sun from baking everyone.

If applicable, adding a ceiling fan may be something to consider as well.

Adding the right ambiance to a deck can create a relaxing vibe while enjoying company or spending time with a significant other.

Consider adding recessed lighting in the post caps which can be LED or solar powdered.

Adding spotlights to illuminate focal points of the deck is also something to consider.

There are many other different lighting ideas for decks such as stairway lighting, string lighting, and under the table lighting.

Recommended features of a wooden deck consists of a complete railing system using pressure-treated wood posts, railings, and balusters.

Homeowners can expect to pay an average price of $14,360 for the addition of a16-ft by a 20-ft wooden deck.

One can expect to get a 72.1% return.

8. Finished Basement

Finishing your basement.
Mike and Melissa’s Downers Grove Basement Remodel, Sebring Design, Build, Remodel

HomeLight and the National Association of Home Builders stated high-income homebuyers (earning $150,000 or more) desire basements.

A vast majority of these homebuyers are located in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic states, and Pacific Northwest.

For instance real estate agent and native resident in Williamsburg, Virginia.

My market has always been a very desirable place for wealthy northeastern retirees to reside.

So, let’s say you’re a homeowner in Williamsburg, Virginia with an unfinished basement.

If you’re a potential seller, the information above applies to you as well!

NerdWallet states an analysis done by Home Advisor shows the cost to finish a basement can range from $6,500 to $18,500 to make the space livable.

For homeowners remodeling their basement, or replacing existing features can cost in the range of $10,000 to $30,000.

HomeLight states one may be able to achieve the average return-on-investment of 70% after finishing a basement.

Remodeling Magazine shows to finish a 20-by-30-foot basement as an entertainment area with a wet bar and 5-by-8-foot full bathroom can cost upwards of $71,000.

9. Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom remodel.
Bathrooms Portfolio, Decorating Den Interiors

Bathroom remodels amongst the most valuable home improvements a homeowner can make.

When it comes to the generational trends of homebuyers, 86% of younger millennials (ages 22 to 29) and 52% of older millennials (ages 30-39) were first-time buyers.

That is more than any other age group of homebuyers.

The study also shows a dual vanity is 75% of the top bathroom features among millennial homebuyers.

A trailing 73% of millennials prefer to have a linen closet in the master bathroom.

Another 70% prefer a Whirlpool tub with a final 68% preferring a private-dedicated space for the toilet.

Mid-range bathroom remodels may consist of a porcelain steel bathtub with ceramic tile surrounds.

Replace old shower knobs with a new single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control.

Go with a standard white toilet and solid surface countertops, such as quartz or granite.

Don’t forget to incorporate a recessed medicine cabinet, or two.

Preferably with an integrated light.

The recommended choice of flooring is ceramic tile.

Some also recommend vinyl wallpaper, but I’m not much of an advocate of that idea.

I believe a homeowner’s best bet is to pick a neutral paint color and call it a day.

For a mid-range bathroom remodel, homeowners can expect to shell out an average of $21,000 while earning a 64% return.

10. Roof Replacement

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Replace Your Roof—MONEY | Money
5 Things to Know Before You Replace Your Roof, Money

In my opinion as a Realtor, homeowners should check to see if their homes have any structural issues first.

Most home buyers are quick to run when a long home inspection report comes back.

Especially one with a faulty report on the roof, and who knows what else.

Hence the reason why I mentioned getting a pre-sale home inspection before listing a home for sale in a previous article.

A roof replacement is one of the most valuable home improvements homeowners can make.


Because banks require big-ticket items such as the chimney, foundation, and roof to be up to code.

So, now let’s talk about Cool Roofs.

A cool roof is designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat, unlike a standard roof.

A standard dark roof can reach up to 150° Fahrenheit.

An Energy Star certified roof has the potential to lower surface temperatures by 50° Fahrenheit.

The reduction of surface temperatures can allow homeowners to reduce their peak cooling costs by 10% to 15%.

Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles.

A roof replacement with asphalt shingles can cost an average of $24,700.

Homeowners can expect a return of 65.9%.

The cost to replacement of a metal roof cost substantially more then an asphalt shingle roof.

Installation cost average $40,318 with a lower return of 61.2%.

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About Marlon Jr.
About Marlon Jr.

I am a Realtor®, blogger, and native of Williamsburg, Virginia. This blog was created with the intent to keep buyers and sellers informed about real estate. Click the blue button below to learn more about who I am!

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